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A little over 36 years ago the French and British governments entered into an agreement that has since resulted in the making of aviation history. For on November 29, 1962 the two nations decided to go ahead with the construction of the Concorde, the Free World's first large supersonic jet transport aircraft.
Four firms-two British and two French-began simultaneous construction of two Concorde prototypes in February of 1965, and on March 2, 1969 Concorde 001 made its maiden flight at Toulouse, France. The sleek, delta winged aircraft quickly lived up to its designers' greatest expectations.
Powered by four Rolls-Royce turbojet engines developing more than 32,800 pounds of thrust each, the Concorde can carry more than 100 passengers-all in first class-from New York City to Paris in less than four boom. This is about half the time it takes to make that transatlantic crossing in a conventional passenger jet.
The Concorde's maximum cruising speed is March 2.2 (more than twice the speed of sound) or 1,450 miles per hour. The sleek airliner can cruise at a maximum altitude of 65,000 feet, and its extreme range is 3,600 miles.
A unique feature of the Concorde's design is its needle-sharp nose section, which can be angled downward during takeoff and landing to permit its pilot an unobstructed view of the runway. And while its "drooped nose" gives the Concorde an ungainly appearance on the ground, the aircraft takes on an exceptionally graceful look when the nose section is elevated into its straight-ahead position for supersonic flight. To prevent possible property damage and discomfort on the ground from sonic shock waves-and to ease the fears of some of its critics-the Concorde flies at supersonic speed only over the open ocean or sparsely inhabited areas of the world.
Today, several Concordes, produced on twin assembly lines in England and France, have been placed in service. Thousands of passengers have traveled on the sleek supersonic transport. It is currently the only commercial airliner that makes it possible to take an afternoon flight across the Atlantic and land that evening, so travelers can be ready for a full day's activities the next morning.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
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Updated: March 12, 2004